Thursday, April 28, 2016

Now everybody has got the choice between hotdogs and hamburgers (John Mellencamp)

It struck me recently how much the growth mindset idea is pretty much a glass half full endeavour.

The glass half full idea struck me again while reading an article about positive brains being smarter brains.

This in turn made me think about this Larsen cartoon...

Which then made me hungry for a classic cheeseburger from Wimpy's...


I forget - what was I talking about??

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I get delirious (Prince)

It's the middle of my holidays! YEH!!!!

I love to immerse myself in the flow of physical labour during my holidays. I get bone tired but my mind is wide awake; just enough that I can watch wonderful films like The Double Life Of Veronique and read Patti Smith's M Train with rapt attention.

I read about 'flow' in a cool article called The Habits of Supremely Happy People.  It immediately struck a chord.
When you’re immersed in an activity that is simultaneously challenging, invigorating and meaningful, you experience a joyful state called “flow.” Happy people seek this sensation of getting “caught up” or “carried away,” which diminishes self-consciousness and promotes the feelings associated with success. As explained by, “In order for a Flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success.”

Okay - back to work...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tremors in the thigh bone, shakin' all over (Johnny Kidd and The Pirates)

R and R: Review and R...omg - I can't remember. 

Is it revise? respond? resuscitate? rest? 

Ah - silly me, just remembered - it's reflect!!

At my school Review and Reflect has replaced the A word - appraisal.

Thank goodness!

The A word's judgmental connotations are mainly centred around accountability, compliance and evaluation (the full Monty version of the A word is, of course, Performance Appraisal, which is, like, shudder - even worse)

Instead, Review and Reflect's connotations are around softer things like self-reflection and future development.

There's a hint of tautology in the term but review is the looking back bit and reflect is the thinking about that and then thinking about how improvements can happen in the future bit so... 

As per the new outline, we each need a large 'out there' over-arching goal to hang our own Review and Reflect on (rather than the three goals under the a*******l system).

I'm struggling a bit with this, partly because I've been conditioned over 30 plus years of teaching to think otherwise. 

This article by Jeff Goins helped a bit - he's an advocate of small gains towards a big goal, so he's speaking my language! 

As he succinctly reminds us, I don't necessarily need a big Jerry Maguire moment, no dramatic declaration to the world.

Paradoxically then, I can reconcile an overarching focus which breaks down into some composite parts.

I have a few ideas about where I want to head in the future, so the reflect part is probably going to focus on specific skills I have that can be adapted/ supplemented to things beyond the classroom.

Come to think of it Review and Resuscitate seems very apt!

In a further positive move away from a*******l, we no longer have hierarchical appraisers. Instead we are paired with someone of our choice and we act as reciprocal sounding boards. A fabulous move!

I have a great mentor buddy (officially, we're using 'coach') in Jane. I trust her and she gets me. Can't ask for much more can I?

Nice one all round to Dionne and her Taylor Swift (shake it off) team. You dun good!

Now, where are those paddles...okay...CLEAR!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Betcha by golly, wow (The Stylistics)

Speculating on the future of education is endlessly entertaining so I am usually drawn to articles on what it will look like.

Some appear way off, while others have a ring of truth and hopeful possibility about them.

It's kinda amazing that while many people see a world beyond our current one (after all, there are many innovators in education - we're creative people by and large) we STILL lag beyond the world as it evolves.

I really enjoyed an article from Terry Heick in TeachThought (yes that trendy joined up thing again). It was a notable entry in the growing list of visionary articles.

His was titled 12 things that will disappear from classrooms in the next twelve years, and it made for a great read.

I was perusing it at school at my work space in the staff room and, annoyingly, I couldn't help reading a few out aloud to my colleague, Jo.

I was hooked by the first one - Whole Class Instruction/Direct Instruction when he says, "In what universe does standing up in front of 30 people to “teach” something make any sense?"

Recently we finally came to the end of an epic eleven week term and I can't recall many lessons with my senior classes when I gave whole class instruction.

I feel good about that!

Have a look at Terry's other ones and see how many you can tick off (my score was 10 of the 12, just saying).

Monday, April 11, 2016

It's a wonder I can think at all (Paul Simon)

Professional development.

What is it?
Generally speaking,  it's a focus on the development and growth of individuals and organisations (me and my school in this case).

More specifically, it refers to a wide variety of specialised training, formal education, or advanced professional learning intended to help educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill, and effectiveness.

Sometimes this involves a meeting after school on a Monday afternoon in a hot and stuffy staff room.

What is it good for?
If it is true to its intentions it can be great.

But if the professional development is poorly designed, executed, scheduled, or facilitated, or if teachers feel that it is irrelevant to their teaching needs and day-to-day professional responsibilities, then at best it's seen as a waste of time, at worst it can have a negative, destabilising impact.

When is the optimum time for it?
According to Stanford University it needs to be embedded in substantial planning and collaboration time at school.

I think the key words is EMBEDDED - to be an integral part of a surrounding whole.

Why is that many many schools feel that after school on a Monday is the right time to schedule something that should be an integral part of a teacher's professional development?

The best example I've experienced was at Woodford House a few years ago when staff embarked on an inquiry project of their own design. Ultimately these projects, which lasted for a number of school terms, resulted in meaningful change to individuals AND the organisation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

From the caravan, I hear the fairground band (Rory Gallagher)

1 One about personalising education, Priscilla Chan, and Mark Zuckerberg

Interesting article about the pros and cons of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's funding initiative - like Facebook it involves algorithms that provide student users with content based on an analysis of their past behaviour and demonstrated interests.

For me, some of the objections raised in the article seemed pretty shallow. Interesting, though, to consider this innovation.

2 Dan Rockwell
Dan's Leadership Freak blog is a firm favourite as you know. Here is a list of his six best regarded posts. The guy posts every day and somehow maintains an exceptionally high standard.

3 Essential skills for teachers
I remain a sucker for these lists of must haves. Many of us do - must be something in the educator's DNA. Here are 10 skills for modern teachers.

4 Growth mindset
A lot of talk about this simple concept - teachers do like to over think things like this - but this mind/shift article gives a great lowdown on this latest buzzword.

5 Blended learning
Another great article on blended learning. This one is knowledgeable but also fun to read!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Workin' hard to get my fill, everybody wants a thrill (Journey)

"Your expectations, more than anything else in life, determine your reality. When it comes to achieving your goals, if you don’t believe you’ll succeed, you won’t." Travis Bradberry.

Travis is President of TalentSmart (a training provider specialising in emotional intelligence, and yes they do the joined up thing in their name). He contributed an article to LinkedIn (whatisitwiththistrendtorunwordstogether?) which boiled down to the pithy statement: Life's Not Fair

The Harvard research alone is great to read and think about but the whole article is worthy of your time for further reflection.

Can't be bothered? Here's my Reader's Digest condensed version (at least they are not ReadersDigest yet).

We get the most out of other people when we believe in them.

Letting your doubts cloud your belief in someone (or something) practically ensures their failure.

Along the way he discusses a series of great fallacies:
  • Life should be fair.
  • Opportunities will fall into my lap
  • Everyone should like me
  • People should agree with me
  • People know what I'm trying to say
  • I'm going to fail
  • Things will make me happy
  • I can change him/her
The bottom line (literally): 

Believing that you’ll succeed really does make it more likely that you will.